Qui tacet consentire – a protest!
I have no problem with Fr Dresser’s statement about opposition and protest to the media which reported the terrible and inhumane treatment of David Hicks (Bring Hicks home, OLC Letters, issue 126) -- and I do feel compassion in the Gospel sense -- but I do have difficulties with the Bishops getting involved in this controversial issue.
Has Fr Dresser referred the matter to his own Bishop and his Brother-Bishops since he, Fr Dresser, is part of the hierarchy?
Since when do two wrongs create a right? Is it not a fact that Hicks allegedly involved himself of his own free will with a foreign enemy terrorist organisation in a foreign country which would not shy away killing our own Australian soldiers?
To my way of thinking, the Australian Government has taken certain steps to have Hicks extradited and tried in Australia and what more can be done? Foreign Governments are not telling us how to run our own business!
In any case who are we to quote the Geneva Convention with our abysmal record on refugees including children incarcerated in camps? How can the Bishops dictate to other Governments how to run their business when many of our own actions have been condemned by the world? What about social justice? Where is the action of the Bishops in the Redfern situation? What about the general Aboriginal situation, especially as regards health and education issues? What about the environment and our own actions to destroy our planet? This is where my own moral dilemma lies!
Let’s first clean up our own backyard before we tell other people how to deal with citizens who have deliberately violated our country by alleged betrayal outside Australia. I am getting sick and tired of hearing certain vocal individuals telling the Government what to do in such cases!
Bishops ARE speaking strongly
It’s good that Fr Peter Dresser draws attention to the plight of David Hicks and that he has written to the Attorney General on his behalf (Online Catholics, Letters, October 18, 2006).
In fact, Australian Bishops are speaking out strongly on this issue. Earlier this month, Cardinal George Pell called for David Hicks to be brought to trial as quickly as possible.
Bishop Christopher Saunders, the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, an organisation of the Australian Catholic Bishops, joined Cardinal Pell in that call. He has consistently sought justice for David Hicks and other detainees at Guantanamo Bay and has issued many media releases on this issue; they can be found on the websites of the ACSJC and the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Bishops Saunders has also written to the Attorney General on numerous occasions seeking justice for Mr Hicks.
Most recently, Bishop Saunders called on the Federal Government to act immediately and decisively. He said: ‘If [David Hicks] has a case to answer, he should be tried without further delay by a competent and independent tribunal with all of the protections of the rule of law that Australian citizens would expect, compliant with the Geneva Conventions. Otherwise his continued indefinite detention can no longer be justified’.
Jesus or Judas?
Fred Jansohn, I believe, is correct to see Jesus as the revolutionary he was and is (Lost anarchism, OLC, issue 126). However, I cannot help but wonder whether his article presents some kind of hybrid combination of Jesus and Judas.
Judas, it seems to me, wanted Jesus to be a little more proactive in attacking and overthrowing what Judas saw as the dominant oppressor of the day: the Romans. However, Jesus worked his revolutionary magic - primarily - through the love and compassion he brought to the relationships he had with people.
Jesus challenged the Jewish and Roman authorities of the day with his vision of the Kingdom/Reign of God/Love. Jesus loved all and seemed to have a 'soft spot' for those who were being oppressed by what, he believed should be freeing them - religious authority. He lived and preached what he believed, and those with the most to lose - if Jesus' vision was a reality - killed him.
I believe I am asked by Jesus to grow in love for those who I believe oppress today: those people who react to any threat to their perceived power. When they react to stop a perceived threat, then they can abuse this power. When I see this, it is very tempting to react in kind from my own limited world view - just as my 'enemies' do. It is a temptation that I often cannot resist.
Fred's article, it seems to me, shows in its argument elements of this same reactive tendency from a limited world view. It seems to be reacting more than loving those who abuse power (perhaps) for their own insecure, egocentric ends. I could be completely wrong of course, that is just how it seems to me.
Love does not mean not acting for justice. It means, I believe, acting for justice in ways that promote love for all, regardless of their position in society or the power they think they do or do not have. This is part of a non-violent stance that embraces non-violence of attitude and action. I believe Christianity, at its heart, is non-violent.
Redfern suffering continues
Following Dear Brothers and Sisters (OLC issue 120) and the response of Cardinal Pell to our letter by quoting mainly the position published in his press statement of August 1, a visit was paid to Redfern by members of the Small Church Community of Toukley.
The experience was joyful and saddening.
Joyful -- because of the lovable and friendly atmosphere of the community in welcoming everybody, including some dysfunctional Aboriginal people; and the active participation in the Eucharist. Sad -- because of the complete isolation and apathetic behaviour of the three celebrating priests. Not that there appeared to be any trespasses of Canon Law! Apart from the vernacular, it was more a Mass of pre-Vatican II format.
There was no personal welcome or any other personal contact with the congregation by the Priests at any stage. They did not participate in the community singing.
How do you expect more Aborigines attending Mass in such a Eucharistic celebration? Why are the Priests not participating or encouraging the daily feeding of 150 Aboriginal people? Allegedly, rental by the Diocese of large premises as a presbytery at a weekly cost of $800 -- where Mass is celebrated for the members of the Neo-catechumenal Way community on a Saturday night – is acceptable while requests for running water in the back of the Church have met with silence. Why has the Church not provided a facility for this ministry?
The many issues have been repeatedly communicated to the Cardinal who has promised to come and discuss them. His answer that the Priests have his full support and any meeting is conditional on the maintenance of the presence of the Priests of the Neo-catechumenal Way appears the obvious stumbling block for dialogue.
How would Jesus have dealt with this situation?
A further approach has been made to the Cardinal asking questions and describing the experience at Redfern by the Small Church Community. Is the short reply we received from Cardinal Pell an indication of an opening for dialogue?
In view of the Catholic Bishops’ recent Social Justice Statement, where Father Ted Kennedy of Redfern was prominently mentioned, it is hoped that the heritage of this remarkable priest of compassion is continued and supported by the Church. Ted Kennedy’s criticism of the hierarchy only puts him on equal footing with Blessed Mary MacKillop!
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